Advent in Us: Making Space for JesusBlog / Produced by The High Calling
This Advent I am pregnant. This is my third child, my fourth pregnancy. I enter this season after having lost a pregnancy this past summer. I enter it, knowing now more than ever before, the uneasy delicacy of bringing a child into this world, how little control we mothers have. I cannot force this child in me into existence. I can only rest and wait. I can only make choices that will aid its life. I can only allow my body to do what it was made to do. It is all out of my control. It is all grace.
Making space for another life is not an easy task. It requires rearrangement, emptying. It requires a dying of sorts. I have spent the past three months in a state of constant nausea. I have battled fatigue and the bodily ache of joints loosening, bones and organs rearranging. I have been hungry to the point of illness. And still, even as I release my comfort, let go of my ability to accomplish tasks that were easy mere months ago, I cannot control or define the work within me. Did my unborn child form fingernails today? An extra layer of skin? A working spleen?
Waiting for a child to be formed is nothing new or astounding. How many billions of mothers in the history of our world have undergone the long months, exhaustion, and hard work of pregnancy? How many have waited for their children to be shaped and nourished and formed, to be made ready for this world?
Still, since I became a mother, I have learned to consider Advent in a way I never grasped before. If Christmas is the season of celebration, Advent is the season of preparation, of anticipation. Who better to teach us than a mother?
Mary, the young girl given the overwhelming task of bringing God’s child into the world, learned in the fullest physical sense the power of making room for God to dwell within. We may not be the physical bearers of Christ, but Mary’s story offers us an invitation to follow her example, to prepare for the arrival of Jesus.
Advent in us begins with the hard inner work of making space for the coming of Jesus. If we are waiting for Jesus to be born, if we are preparing for him along with Mary, what should that spiritual work look like? After all, I don’t wake up on any given Monday of my pregnancy determined to grow a particular organ for my child. I simply live, aware that the changes in me reveal a deeper work beneath my understanding.
Spiritual growth is also far from measurable. But what if this Advent we were to live with a knowing—an awareness—that God is doing something new within us, that we are making space in our lives for Christ?
Of course making space for Jesus is not easy. Bringing forth life never is. It demands we empty ourselves to make room. It means we may need to reevaluate the patterns and commitments in our lives. We may need to sort through the wild busyness of our daily tasks in order to discover what is really necessary, what gives life to us and the people around us, what leads us into God’s presence. We may need to learn how to actually rest.
Perhaps Advent, the busiest season of the year, is also an invitation to take stock of our spiritual health, our priorities. Is it possible to make room for Jesus in the frantic rush of Christmas parties and service projects? Can we calm our mental shopping lists and anxious calendar planning, and ask ourselves if our souls need some rearrangement?
We can follow in Mary’s footsteps: letting go of control, recognizing that God’s work in us is miraculous, grace-filled. And we can practice the holy work of wonder, of gratitude, of recognizing that as we make room for Jesus, God is creating something beautiful.
We are invited to an Advent beyond the hustle of pre-Christmas franticness and into God’s gentle presence. Advent may actually become a quiet inner-voice (in the midst of a loud season of noise and demands) asking us to pay attention:
Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming.
Make room and wait.
Advent in Us
“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor. 15:10).
The grace of God through Christ Jesus is not a passive presence in our lives. The grace of God is at work in us, building us up and moving us to action and growth, to good work and worship. Everything we accomplish and all we become is because of the grace of Christ. In this, the first week of Advent, let’s remember Advent in Us, the gift of grace through our Lord Jesus. Let’s consider ways to discover anew the work of grace in our work, our lives, and our relationship with God.